Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger says they take their annual goals very seriously. It’s part of a strategic plan based on 4 ideas.
“In today’s world, where there may…I don’t think so much in our area, but nationwide there may be some anti police sentiment and I think it’s just clearly a lack of understanding,” said Schwertfeger.
The Chief says in 2016–big changes have been made. The false alarm program started, cut down on false calls for service. And in the wake of shootings and riots across the nation–they trained businesses for what they call “critical incidents”
“So whether we’re doing a presentation to an organization or participating in a panel discussion we’re certainly always at the forefront with that,” said Schwertfeger. “So, getting out there and community outreach I think has been a success.”
Another big way officers related and interacted with their residents social media. In 2016, the public information officer position was created and filled, and the Facebook and Twitter were set up and enhanced.
“Interestingly enough, we are testing at the end of January for police officer positions to get those vacancies filled and we’re already seeing a huge increase in interest I think because of the social media aspects that we’re now employing,” Schwertfeger said.
Five officers just graduated from the police academy–but the department still had some issues with recruitment and retention throughout the year–but that doesn’t mean our streets aren’t safe. The citizens police academy continued–preparing NAVS–or neighborhood assistant volunteers–there are 20 men and women who assist with big events and patrol their own neighborhoods.
“From what I’m told, we log more volunteer hours in Wheeling than in larger municipalities like Columbus Ohio so very proud of those folks,” Schwertfeger told 7News Reporter Tessa DiTirro.
So what’s to be done in 2017?
“I am also the type that you know we’re never satisfied, a lot that we can continue to improve upon and you know we’re going to do that,” said Schwertfeger.
The chief wants to start by getting the department at full capacity and transitioning the fleet to more SUV vehicles. With the exciting expansion of the health plan coming to downtown–he’d like to set up a crime watch to support the business boom in downtown.
“I’m very proud, and it’s an honor to continue to serve the citizens of wheeling and the greater wheeling area in this capacity and I’m very proud of the men and women that work here and do great things everyday,” Schwerfeger told 7 News.